The porch swing was my first object lesson in divorce. Two friends of mine were splitting up, and I had known them both before they were married. They had two kids, and that’s when it sucks the most, and they slipped from getting a nice, quiet, easy, bloodless divorce to one that was sad, and it was ugly. They began to fight over money, then furniture, and then the damn porch swing, and the kids wound up watching their parents pay two divorce lawyers enough money to pay for a year of college in one day.
Get this: They didn’t even have a porch. The swing was in a storage shed.
I wound up with my sister’s two labs from her marriage. They’re giant dogs and they dig. I don’t like them very much but I am one of the few men who can say they got something out of a divorce they didn’t lose anything in.
I got off light and I know it. I lost one of the two trucks, the one she drove, and she had pretty much driven it into the ground anyway. The woman was hard on machines, I tell you. Other than that, there was some weirdness; she stole some CD’s that I knew she didn’t like or already had one of. She also lifted a drawing done by a friend of mine. I’m pretty sure she meant to destroy the drawing because it was a nude of a woman, and she was jealous of anything female and human. She also stole my yard rake.
Alcohol and I have had a lot of deep discussions about why a woman would take a yard rake, and why I didn’t say to myself when she and I were just living together, “That’s the type of woman that would take a man’s rake and never look back.” But that thought never surfaced before the rake went missing. And so I sat there one night, wondering at what point the woman thought, “My life sucks so bad I’ll take his rake, and that will show him.” But show him what? Rakes are relatively inexpensive things, like the CDs she took, and only the drawing couldn’t be replaced.
I made a list of the CDs she took and I replaced them, slowly. I made a point of recovering the music I had lost, and I bought a new rake, a metal rake, one of the high-end yard rakes, that was gluten free and cordless, too.
None of this addressed the why. All the alcohol drowned the senses, numbed the feeling that I had been wronged, without looking the issue in the eye and asking the question of how someone I married morphed, somehow, into a rake stealer.
Just as the process of marriage, the ceremony, the public announcement of the union, the combining of possessions, the sharing of a bed and bodily fluids, makes two people one, the process of divorce divides. The lawyers, the paperwork, the public admission of defeat and giving up, the empty space, opens up a gap that is filled with petty feelings that rush into the vacuum. And rakes go missing.
What did you lose in your divorce?